Expired doses of the Pfizer vaccine from New Zealand have been used in Niue, the Niue health ministry has confirmed.
In a statement, Niue’s Ministry of Social Services director-general Gaylene Tasmania said the expired doses were administered in vaccinations on May 24.
She said 51 people received the booster doses, which had passed their expiry date under refrigerated storage conditions.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said there was no risk of harm to the individuals that received the expired vaccine.
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“As soon as we became aware of the misinterpretation on expiry dates, we notified the 51 people and their families,” Tasmania said.
Of the 51 people, 48 were 16–17-year-olds, and three were adults.
Tasmania said they were working closely with New Zealand’s Ministry of Health and New Zealand’s Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) on incident management and clinical advice.
The advice from IMAC medical advisors was that it was not generally recommended to revaccinate the healthy 16–17-year-old recipients because the vaccine was very likely to be still viable, she said.
Research showed that protection was still provided as a booster.
She said this appeared to be an isolated incident in their vaccination campaign.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in New Zealand said they were taking clinical advice whether the vaccine remained effective and produced a reliable level of immunity.
“Sometimes a further dose is recommended,” they said.
It wasn’t clear when the expired vaccines were delivered to Niue, but the most recent delivery of vaccines, 180 adult doses and 300 paediatric doses, were sent to Niue on March 22.
All of Niue’s Covid-19 vaccines, Pfizer, were donated by New Zealand. Niue began its roll-out last year in June.
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